Here at Koehler Books, we often receive submissions that have already been self-published. Many times, frustration with searching for a traditional deal or an agent leads the author to self-publish without properly preparing their book with editing, a professional cover, and an audience raring to buy it. Afterwards, there tends to be some self-publishing remorse.
Check out Jane Friedman’s article, below, to learn how important it is to know what you’re getting into when you self-publish.
How to Secure a Traditional Book Deal
Here’s the brief answer to the title of this post:
Sell a lot of copies, strong five figures, if not six figures. Sell so many copies that traditional publishing is potentially less profitable for you than self-publishing.
Few people like the brief answer, so here’s the long answer.
By far, the No. 1 consulting request I receive is the author who has self-published and wants to switch to traditional publishing. Usually it’s because they’re disappointed with their sales or exposure; other times, that was their plan all along.
These authors ask me, in many different ways:
How can I get my book the exposure it deserves?
Back in ye olden days of self-publishing (before e-books), the message to authors was so much simpler: Don’t self-publish a book unless you intend to definitively say “no” to traditional publishing for that project. Yes, there was a stigma, and in some ways, it helped authors avoid a mistake or bad investment.
Today, with the overselling of self-publishing, too many authors either:
1. Decide they won’t even try to traditionally publish, even if they have a viable commercial project, or
2. Assume it’s best to self-publish first, and get an agent or publisher later.